Along with the shift in humanity to a mediated existence through a human computer internet enhanced interaction came a very insidious and aggressive graduated installation of surveillance across all aspects of society. Bank tellers gave way to ATM machines that had a forward facing camera, threats of being watched and gaining access through codes, passwords and key fobs all replacing bank notebooks yet giving us at cost access to funds for a supposed convenience. It was within my lifeworld that I began equating the computational allegory of things getting done faster at cost that would see me question the very foundations of the pedagogy within which my primary employment focus resided.
It was in that domain that I felt most secure and perhaps most comfortable that the human computing experience would prove most useful hence my decision to break away from the creative arts as a life focus to that of the role of an educational technologist. By wielding currency of information and related networked connections I was soon able to forge an identity that combined my research skills, my technological passions and the connections I had built from online communications. My interview conducted [ref] with the Australian Flexible Learning Framework as part of the ‘TxTMe’ project team reveals a great deal of the ambition I embodied as the promise of the Internet spread.
It always struck me that there was a huge divide between those who had all the access to technology and wealth to acquire it juxtaposed with those who had hardly enough money to eat anything. Despite this yawning divide in society there always seemed to be, at least from my perspective the capacity somehow for these people who had so little to still maintain a digital connection. I noted around me students who had their priorities skewed towards smoking, drinking and connecting via their digital mobile technologies.
As early as 1998 I noted around the campus that I was working at the signs ‘Turn Off Your Mobile Phone’ or ‘Mobile Phones Not Permitted In This Area’ [ insert that yellow image of the mobile phone in the classroom picture ] started to appear in significant spaces. I also happened to sit on the Campus ICT committee and voted repeatedly against the punitive judgement of campus administrators responding reactively to complaints that students were no longer paying attention in class, constantly distracted by the mobile technologies they either shared or owned. This I think was at the crux, the centre and the very foci for my behaviours as an educator and educational technologist for at least a decade thereafter, that distributed, mobile phone friendly and democratic ettiquette in an always-on classroom.
In retrospect which is always wonderful as a distanced hindsight, it seems that I was torn between what the policy of the organisation purported to support and that of the control between the actors in the learning paradigm. On the one hand we had the administrative and managerial hegemony of the organisation who were respondent primarily to where the monetary value of an educational organisation lay. On the other hand you have a vast array of actors as educators, students, support staff, external agency members, workforce participants and a plethora of other contributors unpaid who formed the very ‘purpose’ of the institution. Again, there we have an example of the power differential between those who monitor and control over those who whose very existence is the purpose for those in oversight.
The power differential between these actors and their purpose for me was a mystery and so it is now evident that my behaviours, my actions and my subsequent chameleon like engagement across many organisational profiles was to gain an understanding of where that power lay, how it formed, when it was distributed and why it was the way it was. For instance, when I graduated from my primary education teaching degree I recall walking down the exit ramp to the campus feeling overwhelmed and angst ridden knowing that I’d spent four long years of my life learning what I could well have discovered if I’d had the foresight to ‘see’ through life experiences [ Refer to the experiences with Tom Puglisi, Rob Muir and the film media world at the time...the experiments with analogue film and directing ] prior to that enrolment.
I was also angst ridden knowing that I was now torn between knowing what I didn't now know of the visual and performing arts fraternity and the emergent field of technologies that seemed to underpin the whole backbone to daily communication. So, I turned on my heel and enrolled in a Fine Arts degree and remained fixed to a misunderstanding that knowledge of the arts and power within the arts came from an accreditation, a certificate of competency so to speak, despite the fact that I was already a practising professional artist.
My world view of prior experience had I admit been deeply fractured by life experiences that held me to ‘place’ and yet paradoxically now serves as the basis for better understanding why I have acted rather than simply ‘been’ myself in any given environment. It is with great importance that I note that at this very point of time, as I write, I am virtually ‘flying’ through time and geolocations like a kaleidoscope of memory of images, images and feelings and I think that is super important as I have noted prior. As I’m writing I’m bringing out the story of the learning experience and laying before you the reader those very elements that you did not see from my perspective.
By acknowledging this ‘astral travelling’ as some might naively call it, this oversight [ keyword and concept ] is at the heart to a cultural phenomena it seems...that without the capacity to recall, without the ability to understand that knowledge is transmitted beyond the inculcation [ Friere and Illich ] of institution then we are left simply sleepwalking through society, a servant to it postmodernist and industrial trappings. That means we are simply human labour to machines if we cant travel up, see over, reflect and learn from experience. That also means those who run the corporations are rendering us mute as Hannah Arendt [ look up ‘labour animal’ in Wikipedia ] would attest.